The studio continued to grow and soon the brothers outgrew the Kingswell facility. They needed more space so they purchased a property at 2716 Hyperion Avenue in the Silverlake area of Los Angeles in 1925. The new studio opened in 1926.

The Hyperion studio quickly became a creative beehive but it grew in an unorganized fashion. The facility sprawled from 1,600 square feet to over 20,000 square feet by 1931. A two-story Spanish Revival building and soundstage joined the original one-story stucco building. Over the years, additional buildings would be added as needed and the studio would grow to more than 73,000 square feet by the time the Disney brothers moved to Burbank.

Along with this rapid growth and success, Roy would insist in 1929 that they rename the company Walt Disney Productions to be a very real reminder as to who was the creative force behind the animation studio.

With the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the Disney brothers thought it was time to build a proper animation studio from the ground up. In 1938, they bought 51-acres in Burbank. Frank Crowhurst was chosen Chief Contractor and Bill Garity was named supervisor for the project. They began construction in 1939 and the first members of the Disney staff moved in on Christmas Eve of that same year. The rest of the staff moved in by the spring of 1940.

In Walt Disney: The Triumph of The American Imagination
Walt tapped Kem Weber to be the architect for his new studio. The name Kem is combination of his given name, which was Karl Emanuel M

The Studios

A Machine for Making Movies

Most Hollywood movie studios were a jumble of hastily built soundstages and administrative buildings that doubled as stage sets. They did not call these film factories for nothing. Walt wanted something very different for his creative talent. His studio would be based on an easy to navigate site plan and timeless architecture.

You enter the Disney studio through one of three gates. The internal circulation system is based on a grid of streets like a midwestern city. A grid roadway pattern is logical and makes finding your destination easier.

Form Follows Function

A re-creation of Walt's formal office once stood in Disneyland's Opera House

The Burbank studio was designed to provide the artists all the comforts of home. There was a snack stand, barber, cleaners, a buffet-style restaurant, and health club. Every part of the facility was air-conditioned by a custom made General Electric system. This was a very rare thing at the time and was good for the artists comfort as well as keeping dust off the painted celluloid sheets.

This attention to detail was not just Walt being a benevolent boss; it meant that his artists really had no reason to leave work. The Disney studios work environment was unique at the time but it would become the prototype for modern day high-tech companies and other high performance organizations after World War II.

Next week, we'll continue our little history of the Walt Disney Studios. Until then, keep a good northern light for creativity!

We invite you to join Sam and MiceChat at the Huntington Gardens in July
Presented by the Los Angeles Region Planning History Group in cooperation with the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West Huntington Library and Gardens
Saturday, July 9, 2011 at the Huntington Library and Gardens

  • David Sloane, Professor, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development
  • Hassan Haghani, Community Development Director, City of Glendale
  • Vaughan Davies, Principal and Director of Urban Design, AECOM
  • Neal Payton, Principal, Torti Gallas and Partners
Cost is $40; for students with valid student ID, $20

Fee includes coffee and pastries, lunch, parking, and day pass to the Huntington

Seating is limited; please RSVP to:
Alice Lepis, Secretary (preferred) or at 818.769.4179 no later than
Tuesday, July 5, 2011